Interviews by Topic: Employment

Alice Elizabeth O'Connor Chmielewski, class of 1928

Alice Chmielewski begins by discussing her life growing up in East Providence and assuming guardianship of her brothers and sisters after the early deaths of her parents. In Part 1, she also talks about changing careers to become a social worker, the state of public welfare services and her work for the Rhode Island Department of Children, her marriage and children, and earning a Master's degree later in life.

Alice Mary Clark Donahue, class of 1946

Part 1 begins with Alice Clark Donahue's recollections of her first impressions of Pembroke College, her involvement as a speech teacher, and being an assistant to Sock and Buskin. She then mentions her vast volunteer experience and discusses the implications of marriage and children on women's career opportunities. She elaborates on her volunteer work after graduation and her positions with the Junior Women's Club and the Junior Assembly of Rhode Island.

Ann Martha Chmielewski Anderson, class of 1959

The daughter of Alice O'Connor Chmielewski '28, Ann begins her own interview by relating childhood memories of accompanying her mother to Pembroke College reunions. She then describes her social and academic life as as a student herself, a "city girl" who later lived on campus.

Beatrice Elizabeth Coleman, class of 1925

In this interview, Beatrice Coleman discusses her career as a teacher in normal schools in North Carolina and Pennsylvania; the African American communities in Providence and at Brown and Pembroke in the early twentieth century; and her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. At the time of the interview she was 102 years old.

Beatrice Wattman Miller, class of 1935

Beatrice "Bea" Wattman was the daughter of a jeweler who immigrated from Moldavia in 1895  at age 18, and a mother who came from Austria as a young child. Raised in Providence along with two younger brothers, she attended Hope High School, where her classes in the "Classical" curriculum track were taught by several Brown alumnae. This interview touches on many subjects relating to her family, education, and work. 

Dorothy Myrtle Kay Fishbein, class of 1945

Dorothy begins this interview by describing her early life in Boston; how she came to be a student at Pembroke after beginning her college education at Simmons College; working in the children's goods store run by her family while attending Pembroke as a day student; her courses and professors; and the effects of World War II on campus and American culture more generally. 

Elizabeth Pretzer Rall, class of 1944

At the start of this interview, Elizabeth Pretzer Rall describes what it was like to attend Pembroke College while living at home with her family in Providence. She explains her decision to major in Geology and remembers some of the geology field trips she took as an undergraduate. Later, she discusses earning her Ph.D., balancing her work life with the demands of three children, and moving to Texas to research the Midland Texas Basin. Towards the end of her interview, she transitions back to discussing Pembroke and contrasts her wartime college experience with Brown today.

Elizabeth Young (Jeffers) Winsor, class of 1924

Elizabeth Young Winsor begins the interview by discussing her family and the history of careers in education within her family. In Part 1, she talks about her courses at Brown; her disapproval of the Pembroke-Brown merger; extra-curricular activities including being class president, a member of the glee club, and a member of the pyramid squad; and other women’s colleges of the time.

Gladys Paine Johnson, class of 1913

Gladys Paine Johnson begins her interview by describing her family and how she came to Brown in 1909, the first member to attend college. She considers herself lucky to have lived in the mansion on Benefit Street, where she met Sarah Doyle and made lifelong friends. Describing her classes and professors, Gladys remembers public speaking with Professor Thomas Crosby and Deans Lida Shaw King and Margaret Shove Morriss. She majored in math and notes that she did not receive any career guidance while in school.

Helena "Pat" Hogan Shea, class of 1930

Helena “Pat” Hogan Shea was born in Ireland and was a student in 1928 when the Women’s College became known as Pembroke College. She worked her way through school as a commuting student, or “city girl,” who came to campus every day on the trolley. In her interview, Pat describes buildings on the Pembroke campus; her choice to major in Psychology; physical education; people she knew at Pembroke (Professor John Spaeth, who created Josiah Carberry, married her roommate); and elements of her family history.

Jean Ellen Miller, class of 1949

Jean Miller tells the story of her life in this interview, which was recorded on three occasions in 2014 and 2015. In Part 1, she describes being a young child raised during the Depression in the home of her Scottish grandparents, following the death of her mother. Jean discusses how she received a scholarship to Pembroke College before she had even applied to attend the school and she relates several elements of her life as a student, including the summers that she spent working in New Hampshire.

Katherine Perkins, class of 1932

In this interview, Katherine Perkins talks about her family and her upbringing in East Providence and how she came to attend Pembroke College.  She discusses her travel as a day student to campus, the courses she took, extracurricular activities, the one black woman in her class, and the Great Depression. Katherine describes her first career as a social worker and her later work as a French teacher at East Providence High School. At the end of the interview she discusses her activities in retirement, including the Brown Street Series and the Pembroke Club.

Lillian Shoushan Berberian Klanian, class of 1957

This interview concentrates on Lillian's family life and her experiences as a commuter student. She explains that her parents expected her to live at home while she attended Pembroke, and she describes her days on campus  as “an outsider.” She reminisces about life-long friendships with other city girls (they had celebrated their 30th reunion together shortly before this interview).

Linda Jennifer Peters Mahdesian, class of 1982

Linda Peters Mahdesian begins this interview by talking about her family background in Chicago, Illinois; her reasons for choosing Brown; the experience of bi-racial students at Brown; and the Women's Movement on campus. In Part 2, she discusses her jobs after graduation; hiring of minority faculty; and the choices that women have to make as a result of the gains of the Women's Movement.

Marcella Frances Fagan Hance, class of 1944

In Part 1 of this interview with Marcella Fagan Hance, she recounts her acceptance to Pembroke College in 1940 and her experience as a “day hop” or “city girl.” She describes the effects of World War II, including rations on food and gas, a social life that included few men, the Pratt & Whitney aircraft company’s attempts to recruit student workers, and the activities of the Sewing Club. Marcella relates stories about dating practices at Brown, juggling her studies with paid work, the four-year physical education requirement under professor Bessie Rudd, and posture pictures.

Margaret Moers Wenig, class of 1978

[1989  Interview] Margaret Wenig opens this interview by describing her family background and her reasons for choosing Brown. In Part 1, she discusses how she became interested in Judaic studies, her mother’s strong feminist influence, and her choice to study at the Hebrew Union College. In Part 2, she describes the first congregation where she served as Rabbi, her professional life, and her family.

Margaret Moers Wenig, class of 1978

[2013 Interview] Margaret Wenig begins by discussing her admission to Brown, where she was involved with the Brown University Women's Minyan. She discusses the rigor of the Religious Studies Department, the strength of its professors and their mentorship, specifically Professor Jacob Neusner, and her subsequent inspiration to go to the rabbinate at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Marjorie Phillips Wood Burroughs, class of 1911

Marjorie Burroughs entered Pembroke College in 1907. In Part 1 of this interview, she remembers being disciplined as a freshman for the fun she had with her friends; Lida Shaw King, Dean of the Women's College; expectations for dress and behavior at Pembroke; the language courses she took at Pembroke and at Brown; becoming a librarian at Harvard; basketball, bowling, dances, sororities, and other extracurricular activities; and being a tomboy. 

Penelope "Penny" Anne Baskerville, class of 1968

Penelope “Penny” Baskerville begins this interview by recounting her family life and early education in New Jersey. In Part 1, she discusses the experience of being a racial minority at Pembroke (Penny was one of six African-American women in her class) as well as the general novelty of the college social experience, stressing the strength of the friendships she developed. Penny recounts her extracurricular involvement, the founding of the Afro-American Society, and the unique nature of college in the 1960s.

Penelope Claire Hartland-Thunberg, class of 1940

Penelope Hartland-Thunberg begins this interview by focusing on her education. She describes her academic achievements at Pembroke College, as well as the significance of being the only Pembroke student to concentrate in Economics. She details her educational and social experiences at both Brown and Radcliffe, where she received her Ph.D. The interview then transitions to Hartland-Thunberg’s career, which began with a teaching appointment in Brown’s Department of Economics. She describes her interview with Brown University President Henry Wriston.

Polly Adams Welts Kaufman, class of 1951

Polly Welts Kaufman begins this interview by recounting her family life  in Haverhill, Massachusetts before and after World War II. In Part 1, she also talks about the dating scene among freshmen at Pembroke; her work as a waitress; the participation of city girls in work and extracurricular activities; and her role as editor of the Pembroke Record.  

Romaine Ahlstrom, class of 1962

In Part 1, Romaine Ahlstrom discusses the many moves her family made as child; her reasons for choosing  to attend Pembroke College; the difficulties living in the sexist culture of the 1950s; her personal challenges at Pembroke; and the curriculum of Brown/Pembroke at the time.

Rose Beatrice Miller Roitman, class of 1931

In this interview, Rose Miller Roitman discusses the reasons she attended college; her graduate studies and career in bacteriology; Deans Morriss and Mooar; Magel Wilder, her sole female professor at Brown; sex and dating; attending Pembroke as a "city girl"; life during the Depression; and her work with Planned Parenthood.

Rose Roberta Traurig, class of 1928

Rose Traurig starts her interview by stating that she has a long story to tell. She describes her family, from Waterbury, Connecticut, and the high value they placed on education. At Brown, Rose's first dorm was Angell House, and she talks about entertaining guests there on weekends. She mentions that while she and her family never distinguished between Jews and Christians, Jewish girls were never invited to the parties held by the men. There were no sororities, but Rose had a tight group of friends: Joan Aschiem (Biel) and Eleanor Post.

Ruth Ellen Bains Hartmann, class of 1943

Ruth Bains Hartmann discusses growing up in Providence, her family, and her educational background.  She proceeds to describe the academic atmosphere of Pembroke College; extracurricular activities, including Sock and Buskin and the Pembroke Dramatic Society; and Pembroke’s institutional individuality, which influenced her to oppose the 1971 merger of Brown and Pembroke.  Upon her wartime graduation, Ruth moved to Washington to work in the Office of Strategic Services, which recruited English majors to work on cracking codes.

Ruth Lilian Wade Cerjanec, class of 1933

This interview begins with biographical and family information about Ruth, whose mother was a supporter of female suffrage and determined that her daughter should attend Pembroke College. In Part 1, Ruth also describes her experience at as a "city girl" from Central Falls and the attitudes of her classmates.

Santina Lee Siena, class of 1973

This interview begins with a discussion of Santina Siena’s life before college and her reasons for choosing to attend Pembroke College. She describes the dormitories that she lived in, the requirements at Pembroke, and the dramatic changes in relationships between men and women during her four years of college. She also discusses becoming a doctor and the lasting friendships she has sustained with her classmates. In Part 2, she reflects on Brown following the Pembroke-Brown merger and revisions to the curriculum.

Sarah Gertrude Mazick Saklad, class of 1928

In this interview, Sarah Mazick Saklad describes working in Providence as a teenager; her desire to attend medical school, against the wishes of her mother; and her memories of World War I, including learning to knit, Armistice Day celebrations, and the influenza epidemic of 1918. She also discusses the lack of financial aid for female students, effects of the Great Depression, and her pre-med coursework at Brown. She remembers Lillian Gilbreth’s visit to Chapel, an exchange she had with Dr. J. Walter Wilson, and her affection for Dean Morriss.

Susan Virginia Cowell, class of 1969

Susan Cowell explains her reasons for choosing to attend Pembroke College; her expectations for campus culture; her roommate's struggles with class differences; the social life of Pembroke; her own her peers' efforts to protest the Girls School culture, including stealing the chimes, and a march to the Dean's house; her feelings about Pembroke's merger with Brown; the effect of national student movements on curriculum reform; and political actions including a sit-in at City Hall, the 1968 black student walkout, and students turning their backs on Henry Kissinger at Commencement. 

Teresa Elizabeth Gagnon Mellone, class of 1939

Teresa Gagnon Mellone begins this interview by discussing her early experiences at Pembroke, including freshman orientation week and the embarrasing experience of taking posture photographs. In Part 1, she also talks about the academic curriculum at Pembroke, her passion for languages, and the strict physical education requirement. 

Virginia Belle Macmillan Trescott, class of 1938

This interview begins with descriptions of Virginia's childhood and family in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She recalls her years at Pembroke College, in particular: her role on the Pembroke Record staff and as President of the Student Government Association; life as a commuter student; attending college during the Depression; interactions with Brown faculty members; and student activities, including formal dances, Ivy Day and Scut Week.

Zelda Fisher Gourse, class of 1936

Zelda Fisher Gourse starts by describing her decision to enter Pembroke,  Dean Margaret Shove Morriss, and her favorite professors.  She and the interviewer discuss travel in Israel and Ms. Gourse’s daughter, author Leslie Gourse; annual student events like Sophomore Masque and Junior Prom; her older sister’s decision to return to college; being elected SGA President (“why not a Jewish girl?”); and other campus activities.  Gourse then describes her marriage and her career as a librarian at Bristol Community College.